Thursday, May 15, 2008

Disciplined for Godliness

Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
- I Timothy 4:7

Each year I try to take at least one solo canoe trip, usually at the very beginning or very end of the season. There are several reasons for it (beyond the mere fun of canoeing) but probably the primary purpose is to spend time alone in the near-wilderness. I have found it to be a consistently profitable experience to work hard all day and think and reflect. There is some combination of physical exertion, fresh air and solitude that has always yielded fresh spiritual insights in to the state of my family and my life.

On my most recent trip, I was convicted of the need for us Marshes to live a more disciplined life. We had gotten in to habits which, while not directly bad, distracted us from our real family goals of glorifying God and living peaceful and quiet lives (among other things). In other words, we were wasting time. The result was children (and parents) getting insufficient sleep, still not accomplishing all our daily jobs, and making little progress. I was convicted that by wasting time, killing time, passing time, we were not showing due gratitude to God for His gift of time. God has given a limited amount of time to us (only He knows precisely how much) and I wonder how often we neglect to treat it as the precious commodity it is because we have forgotten how little of it we have, and squander it.

To that end, we have instituted a relatively strict wake-up time in the Marsh home. While formerly the children were able to sleep almost as long as they liked, these days they are all awakened at the same time and we have breakfast together as a family before I head off to work and they begin their morning jobs and school. So far, God has blessed our efforts. We have found we’ve been much more effective at school and work, are sleeping better, and, most importantly, are reaping the spiritual benefits the extra time brings. We have all experienced better times of study and prayer and are enjoying the nearer communion with God and each other that has resulted. And that, after all, is the point: we discipline ourselves, not so that we can be efficient or pious, but for the purpose of godliness.